Maternal Advice Leads Ericka Leslie to National Lacrosse Hall of Fame


Ericka Leslie is living proof that it’s always a good idea to listen to your mother.

As a talented high school and collegiate lacrosse player, having started with the sport in the seventh grade, Leslie reached a crossroads when her college career ended at Old Dominion University.

Like many others who have had a long engagement with lacrosse, she wanted to stay involved with the game. But unlike many who choose to continue down the coaching path, Leslie went in a different direction.

“Officiating came out of a little push from my mom,” Leslie said. “She told me I’m a rule follower, so when I was at the end of my time playing in college, she suggested I try officiating because I like following the rules.”

Mom truly does know best, and now, Leslie is among the all-time best.

On October 2, she is being inducted as a ‘truly great official’ into the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame, a member of the Class of 2020.

Heeding mom’s advice, Leslie earned her first rating card in 1997 and quickly progressed through the women’s lacrosse officiating hierarchy. She officiated her first NCAA Division I finals weekend game in 2008 and hasn’t missed one since, becoming as much of a fixture at championship weekend as the NCAA’s bronze and walnut trophy.

This past spring marked Leslie’s 13th straight year of being on the field for either the national semifinals or the final game. Six times, she has been tabbed as the head official in the championship game.

“Every year, it’s a great honor to work a championship game, whether it’s at a league or at the NCAA level,” she said. “All of us work very hard during our seasons knowing that it might happen, and if it does, its excellent. But there will be a time when that won’t be my spot, and I can’t wait to then congratulate those that will be in that spot.”







That magnanimous attitude fuels her motivation in supporting others who wear the stripes. Whether it’s serving as a USA Lacrosse rules interpreter and LaxCon presenter, a clinician and rater, or as an on-field mentor, she relishes all opportunities of passing forward her knowledge.

“You come into this game, you learn from those around you, and then you turn that around and help to be the teacher someday,” Leslie said. “I remember what it was like to be the new person on the field. I was taught and trained by great, solid women. I have just tried to take their cue and take on that responsibility.”

Women’s official Lynn Bowers, serving as Leslie’s presenter for the Hall of Fame, notes that anyone working a game with Leslie knows that it will be a rewarding experience.

“Her knowledge of the rules and her passion to always call a great game helps other officials to come off the field feeling like a million bucks,” Bowers said. “Ericka makes it look easy because she is the best.”

Bowers says that consistency is one of the hallmarks of Leslie’s excellence.

“Whether Ericka is officiating a high school game, club game, the final four or a pro league game, you know she’s going to give you her best,” Bowers said. “That’s what great people do.”

As a fan of the game, Leslie loves having a front row seat to witness the continued evolution of the women’s game.

“There are parts of the game that are amazing,” she said. “To catch this ball with this stick and do these things that women are now doing with it is just incredible. You have to appreciate the athleticism that goes into it.”

As a two-time All-American at Old Dominion and the school’s female athlete of the year as a senior in 1995, Leslie’s ongoing connection to lacrosse is something she appreciates every time she takes the field.

“When I played, I loved everything about the game,” Leslie said. “I loved the wooden stick, I loved being a center and taking draws, and I loved being able to run around. The idea of just being an athlete and playing something was a lot of fun. Officiating, to me, is about continuing to be a part of the game I have loved.”

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The Hall of Fame induction ceremony for the members of the Class of 2020 will be hosted by USA Lacrosse on Saturday, October 2 at The Grand Lodge in Hunt Valley, Maryland. Tickets are available for online purchase only at www.usalacrosse.com/HOF.

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